Flashback to 8 March 2013
I was standing in the queue to get my American Visa, dressed up fully in a suit-shoot with a tie (overdressed would not be a bad word to use for me at that time!).
I had arranged all my papers in order to prove that I have thousands of reasons to come back to India (family photos, property papers, bank statements, etc, etc.)
There were as many as 10 windows in front of me and I could see that as per the speed that the queue was moving, I would have to wait for 20 mins. And as you know me, I spent those minutes on observing reactions of people whose Visa got accepted and of those rejected (jinko passport wapas de diya woh rejected and jinka rakh liya woh accepted).
I saw one particular window jaha 4 out of 6 got rejected. Behind that window sat an aged American man, who probably was having a bad day, at least that’s what I presumed.
I looked up a bit and realised the window was no. 13 and somehow it also happens to be my favourite number. After all, my birthdate is 13 too!
However, deep in my heart I was praying ki mera number is window par na aaye.
Par before I move to window No. 13 let me share some background ki why USA? 🙂
Cut to 2012
In June 2012, I attended a 5-day residential conference International Youth Forum at Sharda University. IYF was attended by 200 participants from across the world. I stumbled upon it on Facebook in April and filled the form aise hi not expecting that I would be invited to this event.
Luckily, I got selected and got a chance to attend it too. It was really for the Youth!
I was 34 year old tab and the average age of all the other participants was 24. The organisers were also hairaan ki aap kaise aa gaye.
Arey baba kismat mein likha tha!
Some sweet memories were collected there and some of those memories & learnings are shared on my blog.
Ab because of IYF I got connected to many participants and in January 2013, I saw post for “New York Global Young Leaders Summit, International Model United Nations (NY-GYLS Int’l MUN) 2013, Manhattan, New York” and phir form bhar diya and phir select ho gaya. Socha chalo isi bahane US ghoomkar aate hain.
Back To Year 2013
Applied for visa and this is the reason why I was standing in the queue praying ki bhagwaan, jo bhi karna bas window number 13 na dena.
Par bhagwaaan to shaitaan hain, and mujhe aaj tak kuch asaani se nahi diya, so ab kaise deta. So window number 13 hi mili.
Nervous to pehle hi tha and ab aur ho gaya.
A few basic questions were asked and unka answer de diya humne. Ab he asked kuch and unka American accent samajh nahi aya mujhe and I replied the opposite (galti to meri hi thi, should have asked again).
Now his tone changed and he held my Invitation Letter in his hand and asked me “How much did you buy this for?”. To say I was stunned would be an understatement.
Me: Sir, I can explain.
He: Your Visa is rejected, GO.
Me: You can get it checked, see my other papers
Him: Go or I shall call the cops.
And this made me freeze and I moved out, head down as I had been rejected as well as humiliated.
Ek din laga theek hone ko, par then I told myself, koi to kaaran hoga.
Also Read: #20SaalBaad with SWISS
Flash Forward to 2018
Fast Forward to May 2019
Planned a visit to US for summer vacations, par visa interview date allotted was far, far away and hence opted for Hong Kong. However, still applied for US Visa for Gurbani (my daughter) and self.
Biometric data gets collected and then comes the day of Visa interview.
Subah nikalne laga to dekha jeb mein paise nahi the so took a Rs.2000 ka note from Mummy and socha ATM se withdraw kar loonga baad mein.
Driver tha nahi, cab le nahi sakta tha as phones are not allowed inside so kahaan rakhta. Drove myself and thoda late ho gaya. Was told by security personnel to park at Malcha Marg Market parking.
While I was driving there I realised it is a kilometre away from the Visa office and aate aate 10 mins aur lag jaeyenge.
Car park ki and me and Gurbani were about to make a dash to visa office and tabhi ek auto aaya, “Sir, Aa jao, Visa office” I asked kitne paise and he said Rs 30. Ab jeb mein Rs.2000 ka note tha and uske paas khule nahi the.
Hesitatingly asked parking wale Bhaiya and he gave khulle. Lo jee sorted, 3mins mein pahunch gaye.
Time ho chuka tha, andar gaye aur baith gaye. Dil ki dhadkan tez thi.
After 5 minutes our row was called out to head to the main hall.
Ab wahaan phir 20 mins ki queue thi. Waise hi har window ko dekhna shuru kiya and got a sigh of relief when I saw ki Number 13 is closed.
Now with a hop in my step I kept moving aage along with queue.
Tabhi ek awaaz aayi, “Counter No. 13 is open. Please send”
And the ushers there go in action and wahan do log bhej diye.
Aaj Number 13 par ek lady baithi thi, looked like sister of last time wale Uncle and phir maine bhagwaan ko yaad karna shuru kiya, “Bhagwaan aaj No. 13 na dena”.
Man mein thaan liya tha, agar usher ne 13 bola then will request him to shift me to some other.
Thankfully, uski zarurat nahi padi.
I was designated to counter no. 14. A smart gentleman with a smile on his face was behind the counter. He was not sitting on the chair but standing and working (I have heard this increases one’s productivity).
But the happiness was short lived and mere se bilkul aage wale bande ka Visa reject ho gaya.
And here I cross the Line and in 2 minutes pata chal jayega ki hum New York ke bagel kha paayenge ya nahi.
He asked basic questions, some specific questions. Before coming here, I kept telling myself. “Tikku, relax! There is nothing to lose, be yourself, don’t pretend.”
And bas waisa hi kiya.
After 3 minutes, he kept the passports with him and told us, “Your Visa has been approved”.
Aaaaaah! Uske baad to samjho bas ek hi gaana dimaag me aa raha tha…. Aaj main upar, aasman neeche…. I was 10kg lighter and did not walk out, but went out hopping (at least dil mein).
Bahar aakar Gurbani and I did strong HIGH FIVE and phir auto liya and gaadi lekar ghar aa gaya.
Ab taiyari New York bagels ki. Shayad this year, next year or multiple times in the next 10 years 🙂
Happy 4th of July!